The Eastern Arizona Gila Monsters lost again Saturday by a narrow margin while on the road at Glendale taking on the Gauchos. The defense played its usual stellar game, and the offense late in the game got the triple-wishbone off the ground and scored a touchdown and almost tied up the game to send it into overtime.
Assistant coach and head defensive coach Jeff Roebuck, who has been with Eastern since 2005, went into depth Sunday about his defense, coaches and players.
“Our base defense is a 4-3, and we run a little 5-3-5 as well,” Roebuck said. “It’s a team game, and we feel that if we can shut them out (opponents), we have a chance to go into overtime. Although we have lost a couple of those games, we felt if we could have played better defense, we could have won those games.”
The Gila Monsters offense has struggled to get its triple-wishbone offense on track the last four games with an average of six points scored per game.
“There is always a give and take. Throughout the years, the offense takes care of the defense and vice versa on some other years,” Roebuck said.
This season, the defense has had a couple of blocked field goals and almost capitalized on the recoveries.
“Those are always game changers; those are things that can really swing the momentum as we saw last night. I wish we could have scooped and scored,” Roebuck said.
Time and time again, the defense has held opponents on goal line stands this season. With 11:03 left in the game, Latwan Anderson picked off a Gaucho pass in the end zone to kill the Glendale drive.
After a blocked field goal by Eastern’s defense, the Monsters’ offense almost scored its first touchdown of the night, but just fell short of a missed pass connection to Collin Fanning, who almost caught the high ball in the corner of the end zone.
“If there is a turnover or sudden change, we take the field we take the field with the mind set we want to give up nothing more than a field goal. That’s out goal,” Roebuck said.
The Gila Monsters offense got on track late in the fourth quarter and the “bone” was moving up the field with Deron Thompson at the helm. He was backed up with inspired play by running backs Devin Mohan (who plowed the middle of the field all night), Tyre Brooks and Mike Bellamy. They moved the ball up the field and scored on a seven yard run by Mohan with 3:30 on the clock. With the good extra point it made the score Eastern 7, Glendale 14.
The defense got the ball back again. With under a minute to go in the game the Monsters offense came close to tie the contest with under ten seconds to go and send it to overtime. But it was not to be and the final was Eastern 7, Glendale 14.
Coach Roebucks defensive assistant coaches play big roles in creating the outstanding Eastern defense.
“Chenelle Jones is the secondary coach, he was the head coach for Safford high school for a couple of seasons,” Roebuck said. “Anthony Redding coaches the defensive line and Josh Owen, coaches the line-backers,” Roebuck said in sincere respect of his assistants.
“We’re working on New Mexico right now and they have an offense that is real similar to what you saw last night. A lot of the option-shotgun-throw-threat that seems to be the most fashionable thing right now. It’s very tough to stop. You’ve go the threat of the run, but you’ve also got four wide receivers that can hurt you throwing the ball.”
Okoye Bozeman defensive back, Gary Denate middle linebacker and Anthony Hamm linebacker lead the defense with outstanding play, tackles and pass defense.
“One thing about our defense is that we try and recruit guys that are fast and athletic and that makes up for a lot of size issues,” Roebuck said. “We are very proud of the defense.”